Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Visitors, visitors, visitors!

     Julie Andrews sang, ”The hills are alive with the sound of music.”  Our song here at the monastery could easily be, “The halls are alive with the sound of young ones.”  We have been very fortunate to have many recent visitors from local schools.  In no particular order
  •            Members of Saint Henry District High School came one afternoon to play games primarily with the sisters in the Infirmary. Much laughter echoed through the area as Scrabble, Phase 10, and Sequence challenged sisters and students alike.
  •            Villa Madonna Senior religion class with their teacher Eileen O’Connell came for visiting and service. While some of them were busy cleaning the inside of cars another group were in conversation with the infirmary sisters. Thanks to two of the seniors (who are also our infirmary aides) who helped sisters get from their rooms to the lounge to visit.. It made for a great round table event.
  •            Fifth grade girls from Blessed Sacrament were here last week to learn about our life  After a tour Maddie, a Villa senior and Infirmary aide, shared her knowledge gleaned from life at the school and in her service in the Monastery.The day was rounded out as the girls met with the sisters in small groups for more sharing.
  •         Junior and Senior High students from the Villa (See below, right.) shared their music skills with a spring concert in our Lower Level. Choruses sang from a variety of movie music and the bands played both classical and popular music.  What a fine job and what a treat!
  •             In addition, several sisters became surrogate grandparents for Villa K-3 boys and girls.  After a musical presentation of songs from the grandparents’ era, complete with choreography, held in the theater, the children showed off their classroom, their art work and asked us to answer biographical questions.  It was delightful.

And two future events are coming up. 
           Thirty-two seventh grade girls are coming from Our Lady of Victory.  While the boys are visiting the seminary, these girls are finding out about monastic life. After a tour they will meet sixteen girls from Villa who will share their experience of the Benedictines The day will include Mass and lunch with the sisters.
           The second grade boys and girls of the Villa will be coming for an evening Mass to celebrate their first communions.Parents and relatives will also be our guests.

So all of the joy shared in these various events finds me wanting to sing the title of a familiar hymn: “How can I keep from singing.” 
         Sr. Mary Rabe, OSB

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Think about it

         In our infirmary on the nurses’ desk, there is a small blackboard which has a new saying every day. This one caught my eye. “Silent and listen are spelled with the same letters. Think about it.” My immediate thought was, “The first word in the Rule of Benedict is ‘listen.’” Later I thought, “The Rule has a chapter on silence.” Finally, I thought, “This would be a good topic for my upcoming blog.”
          I believe it was Carl Jung, the noted psychologist, who said, “People pay $100.00 an hour just to have someone listen to them.” To be a good listener we must give our full attention to the one speaking. That is, we must silence all the voices inside and out. We ought not to be planning dinner menu for the next day or what we will say when the person is finished talking or what have to do at the office the next day. It takes discipline to be attentive and to recognize and still our inner voices.
          At worship and at prayer it is necessary to have inner silence to be present and active. Again, from experience we know how difficult it is to still the inner voices that keep from listening and participating. We have to let go and keep returning to the inner silence. (One writer says that he makes distraction part of his prayer.
          Even to enjoy fully a spring day we need to be inwardly still so that we can hear the sounds around: the birds singing, the branches swaying and the crickets doing whatever it is that they do!
          Regarding our relationship with God, Scripture says simply, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)

          Silent and listen are spelled with the same letters. Think about it. 
          Sr. Justina Franxman, OSB

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Death, Separation, Process, New Life

       On a recent sunny afternoon I took a leisurely walk to our cemetery. There I found the recently cut down remains of some very old, tall, ash trees infected and killed by the emerald ash borer.The huge sections of the tree trunks were waiting to be hauled from the cemetery hillside. I pondered the sight of the Sisters’ graves with the large sections of trees scattered among them. The life circles in each immense piece of tree trunk seemed to epitomize the circles of gravestones on the hill. 
       The sight spoke to me of death and separation as well as process and new life.  I recalled memories of these departed Sisters and prayed for and to them. I also wondered about the future of those immense trunks. Might their wood be made into something beautiful or useful or even unique one day? Upon leaving the cemetery, I couldn’t help wishing that it would be so. 
                              Sr. Martha Walther, OSB  


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Verbs of Easter

Candles              The Candle          Music
    distribute        decorate                  tune
    hold                bless                       practice
    light                light                         chose
    share              incense                   reject
    illuminate        place                      download
    extinguish       revere                     remember
    store                store                      copy

Water               Night                      Bread        
   flow               rend                        raise
   pour               illuminate               knead
   bless              conquer                 shape
   circulate         banish                    rise
   symbolize      destroy                   bless
   sprinkle          sanctify                  break
   trickle             bless                      share
Word                 Voices                Movement    
    listen               lift                       direct
    speak              raise                   practice
    explain            soften                 explain
    practice           respond              question
    sing                 harmonize          facilitate
    chant               synchronize        bow
    pray                 whisper              cease
    interpret           exult                   rest
            Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Patron Saints


  The Easter Vigil will be this Saturday evening, April 4. Over several months I have been helping our parish RCIA candidates to prepare for celebrating the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion for the first time. One person has still not chosen a patron saint as is customary and, of course, that poses the question of, “Why does one need a patron saint?”
       We talked about having a friend who is with God and who can be a patron, a helper as we deal with the issues in life. That led to the group raising all the special and usual patronages: St. Jude for impossible causes,  St. Joseph for selling your house, St. Monica when you want your children to embrace their faith.  But afterwards, for myself I came to wonder “Who do I pray to?”  I love St. Dorothy, but need other voices to intercede for me too.
       What seems right for me is to ask the Holy Spirit and all those who love me to help me. The insight to address my prayer in this way was my Ash Wednesday grace I guess because I really meant what I was asking for – a change in my self, not something exterior. If you are like me, sometimes you pray for the grace to do something, but your whole self is not really “into it”. This feels like I am calling upon the whole Cloud of Witnesses to stand for me – in support and also to hold me to the task ahead. I think I’ll be paying more attention to the naming of Saints in the Litany at Easter Vigil this Saturday, because they are likely paying attention to me too. 

         Sr. Dorothy Schuette, OSB